WFI Student Activities

One of the ways that we enact the WFI’s mission — communication as central to the creation of positive social change — is through the sponsorship of student activities that allow undergraduate students to engage specific social justice issues, and make a difference in communities across the globe, through their classwork. Thanks to the WFI, students at Villanova and across the world have the opportunity to influence and change society through communication.

WFI Interns on CNN

WFI Internships in Rome

One of the ways that our scholarly mission engages undergraduate students is through support of Villanova’s WFI Internship program. WFI proudly provides financial assistance to students who travel to Rome each semester to take part in this prestigious work experience, either at the Vatican or at the United Nations.

  • Established over a decade ago, the WFI Internship at the Vatican has allowed students interested in public relations, journalism, and media production to assist Vatican-related offices with social media outreach and other tasks, seeing firsthand how people from vastly different backgrounds and cultures are united by words that capture shared beliefs. Our WFI Interns worked to film virtual reality tours of the Papal Basilicas and Chapels. They were on the stage when Pope Benedict launched the Papal Twitter account, and were on the scene during the Papal Conclave and the Installation of Pope Francis. Former WFI Interns were accredited to cover Pope Francis' historic visit to Philadelphia in September, 2015.

Given this unique program, and the amazing experiences our students have had, our WFI Interns have appeared on CNN, the Today Show, MSNBC, NPR, and all four Philadelphia network affiliates. Our students and faculty have been quoted in stories run by the AP, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and numerous other media outlets.

  • Begun in Fall, 2014, our newest WFI Internship at the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), students are given the opportunity to participate in international advocacy intended to end rural poverty, by investing in rural people. Our WFI Interns at the UN have had their IFAD blogs tweeted by international NGO's such as OxFam, have written speeches for IFAD officials, and have engaged in social media advocacy to assist in realizing IFAD's mission.
Interested in becoming a WFI Intern? Contact the coordinator of the WFI Internships, Prof. Jill Flanagan
Filming WFI Social Justice Documentaries

WFI-Funded Social Justice Documentaries

Storytelling is not simply a subject engaged by Communication scholars; it is also something that students creating the WFI-funded Social Justice Documentaries use to create social change.

As part of this unique program, students spend the semester learning about film and then creating documentaries that allow them to become advocates for important societal issues—sometimes staying in the Philadelphia area, sometimes journeying as far as Ghana, India, or Costa Rica. The resulting films have won awards at local, regional, national, and international documentary festivals—and in the last two years, we've had three films chosen as finalists for the Student Academy Awards. In Summer 2015, "In Transition" and "Rise and Shine" were both selected as finalists for the Student Academy Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (out of nearly 1700 films submitted for consideration); in Spring 2014, our film “Heel’d” was selected as a finalist in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 41st Student Academy Awards competition. All told, our students have told remarkable stories that have changed the lives of both the students and subjects involved, while challenging society’s view of the issues.

Interested in seeing more about these films? Although each group of students creates their own production company and materials, we have started a YouTube Channel devoted to the WFI-Funded Social Justice Documentaries.

WFI Funded Student Project in Ghana

NEW! WFI Communication Student Grant Program

In Summer 2014, the WFI provided a grant of $12,660 to three Villanova undergraduate alums: Lauren Colegrove, Andrew Balamaci, and Nashia Kamal. Their project proposed to teach journalism and reporting skills to the high school students at Heritage Academy in Essiam, Ghana, and, further, to help the school establish a newspaper for their students. They have developed their idea further, into a new program connecting journalism and social justice.

Building upon this experience, the WFI is proud to announce a new grant program for undergraduate students in Communication at colleges and universities across the US. Our goal is to provide support of up to $10,000 for an undergraduate-centered project that connects communication and social change/justice.

Applications for the 2017-18 academic year will be accepted beginning Feb 1, 2017, and will be due no later than 11:59pm on April 24, 2017. Funds will be available in June 2017 for use during the 2017-18 academic year.

For more details, including the full call for proposals and submission instructions, please download the relevant files below, and visit our online application site:

In the meantime, if you have questions about this program, please contact the WFI Director.

The WFI is excited to announce the first official recipient of its new student grant program. The project, entitled "Performing Resistance in the Big Easy: Social Justice and the African American GLBTQ Community in New Orleans," was the work of two undergraduate students from Xavier University of Louisiana, Andre Morgan, Jr. and Kianna Greene (with the guidance of their faculty advisor, Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Affiliate Faculty, Women’s Studies Program, Xavier University of Louisiana).

Their project, which was awarded $10,000 for the 2016-17 academic year, is an clear embodiment of the WFI mission to connect communication and social justice--and a clear indication of the kidns of innovative, powerful programs that undergraduate students can create, given support. Their project's abstract gives you a sense of the quality and import of this project:

"Historically, the African American GLBTQ community has been an important contributor to the fight for civil and human rights in the American South.  However, this community is relatively invisible due to stigmatization and marginalization by the Black community as well as larger dominant society.  While this community has been on the front lines, fighting for gay rights and against injustice for some time, their lived experiences are virtually unknown.  Using interviews and focus groups, the proposed project will examine the ways in which the African American GLBTQ community in New Orleans performs gender as a tool of resistance.  Using performativity as a theoretical framework, the project will focus on the distinctive ways they do gender to positively impact social change. The project seeks to make visible this community’s significant contributions through a scholarly publication, interactive website archive and public exhibition of videos, photographs and narratives focusing on their unique lives."

Please join the WFI in congratulating these young scholars, and please also be inspired by their example to submit a proposal for our next award!

(We will provide additional updates to this project as they become available.)


* WFI_STUDENTgrants_201718.pdf
Download the call for proposals and instructions for our new 2017-18 Student Grant Program. DEADLINE EXTENDED! THE FINAL DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS NOW MAY 5, 2017, @ 11:59PM EST!
* WFI Student Grant Announcement-Promotion Guidelines.pdf
Communication guidelines for successful WFI student grant applicants
* WFI Student Grant Program Instructions for Interim and Final Reports.pdf
For successful WFI Student Grant recipients: instructions for reporting on progress to the WFI Director
WFI Interns at the Vatican

WFI Interns in Rome work for Vatican offices or the UN, engaging the power of storytelling to effect change.

WFI Social Justice Documentaries 2015 Student Academy Award Finalists

In August 2015, two of our WFI-funded Social Justice Documentaries were chosen as Finalists for the 42nd Annual Student Academy Awards Competition!